Preparing Your Air Conditioning Unit for Warmer Weather

Now that spring is here to stay in NJ, the possibility of temperatures rising enough to cause your air conditioning unit to cycle on grows each day. Spring is so fickle, and often we’re experiencing summer temperature highs, like them or hate them, before we know it! Before that happens, here are three steps homeowners can take to prepare air conditioning units for optimal performance and efficiency.

1. Do a visual spot-check of your outdoor condenser unit and air vents throughout your home.

  • The snowfall in New Jersey this winter brought quite a bit of debris to the ground. Inspect your outdoor condenser unit and clear it of any leaves, twigs, and refuse that may be hanging around. The unit’s optimal performance is hindered by blockages that this outdoor debris can create.
  • Indoors, it’s important to make sure that your air vents are completely clear of any potential blockages, too. You may find that toys, hampers, and other household items have cluttered up the space in front of your air vents during the winter months, especially if your heating and cooling systems operate separately. These blocked vents cannot effectively cool your home, so to avoid unnecessarily taxing your system and increasing your energy costs (and decreasing your home’s energy efficiency), take time to visit each room in your home and inspect the air vents carefully before that AC unit fires up for the year!

2. Change your air filters.

  • This is a fundamental step for your health and the healthy functioning of your cooling system. Air filters should be changed at the start of the season and throughout it to help your AC unit run smoothly and to keep your air quality high. As the folks over at Angie’s List explain, “The U.S. Department of Energy says that replacing a dirty filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5 to 10 percent.”
  • The best way to know when your air filter needs to be changed is by looking at it! Some filter manufacturers will suggest a schedule for changing filters on their packaging, so you can use their recommendation as a guide. Keep in mind that if you suffer from seasonal allergies or have pets in the home, your filters will need to be replaced more regularly. In any case–get those filters changed now before your AC unit starts to cycle on for the season!

3. Consider replacing your thermostat with a newer, “smart” thermostat.

  • New, “smart” thermostats differ from traditional thermostats and basic programmable thermostats in some important ways. A traditional thermostat simply allows the user to set the temperature; the unit (heating or cooling) responds by cycling on until the set temperature is achieved. That’s all, folks. If you’re leaving the house for a while or going to sleep and want to save some energy, you have to remember to set the thermostat to a new temperature beforehand. A programmable thermostat allows you to set temperatures for times of day and days of the week. But a “smart” thermostat goes one step further.
  • “Smart” thermostats are so-called because they “learn from your behaviors, allow you to control the climate in your home remotely, show you energy consumption in real-time, and can even adjust themselves based on ambient conditions like humidity,” explains Alan Henry writing for LifeHacker. These thermostats respond to changes in humidity as well as sudden changes in temperature and respond accordingly, so they’re a real game changer whether you’re hosting a party on a warm day or roasting a chicken in the winter.  Another great feature of “smart” thermostats: you can manage many models via apps on your phone. And as Henry notes, many also provide real-time statistics on the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. This feedback is especially valuable if you’re trying to determine whether one of your systems is nearing the end of its lifespan. Consider making the switch to a “smart” thermostat before warmer days are here!

What are your top to-do items for prepping your AC system for the warmer weather? We’d love to hear your tips!